Following Prime Minister
David Cameronís speech on Wednesday I would like to make the position of
the Scottish Government clear as regards the European Union and
Scotlandís place in it.
As you know, a referendum will be held in Scotland in the latter part of
2014 on the question of independence for Scotland. The Edinburgh
Agreement signed by the First Minister and the Prime Minister on 15
October last year sets out an agreed path towards that referendum which
will be adhered to by both the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments.
That agreement is important in the European context as it provides
reassurance to Member States that the outcome of the referendum will be
respected by both sides and that in the event of a vote in favour of
independence the Scottish and United Kingdom Governments will work
together constructively to implement the democratic will of the Scottish
Like all other nations in the EU, Scotland benefits greatly from the
peace and security provided by membership. Our citizens enjoy freedom of
movement and the right to work and study in other Member States. The
ability to trade within a single market of 500 million citizens is a
central aspect of our strategy to stimulate growth by increasing
international trade. The European Union continues to be Scotlandís top
overseas export destination, our exports to the EU are up by around 15
per cent to over £11 billion according to figures released this week.
The single market is a vital and valuable aspect of membership of the
European Union, but the Scottish Government recognises that a successful
Europe also needs to work together on wider social and environmental
issues so that we can deliver a high standard and quality of life to the
citizens of the EU and contribute to tackling wider global challenges.
We understand that these benefits of membership come from working in
partnership to ensure the EU is built on a community of interest.
I therefore want to assure all Member States that following a
positive result in the referendum we would work with the United Kingdom
and the rest of the EU in partnership to ensure we continued to play an
active part in that community of interest.
The Scottish Government does consider there to be a case for reform of
certain aspects of the EU. Scotland is currently playing a significant
role in the process of reforming the Common Fisheries Policy. We would
also like to see more ambitious EU targets on carbon emissions and more
generally we are supportive of the on-going process of institutional
reform aimed at streamlining decision making and increasing
However we understand that those reform ambitions can only be achieved
through dialogue with Member States from within the EU. That is why we
do not support the holding of an in/out referendum on the United
Kingdomís membership. We have no intention of leaving the European
Union. On the contrary we will seek to be a constructive member of the
Union working with other Member States to maximise the benefits we have
enjoyed as members for over 40 years.
I sincerely hope that if the Prime Minister comes to hold an in/out
referendum, by that time Scotland will be an independent Member State
and will be playing its part as a valued and active partner within